Excerpt from A Deeper Sleep by Dana Stabenow, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Deeper Sleep

A Kate Shugak Novel

By Dana Stabenow

A Deeper Sleep
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2007,
    272 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2008,
    352 pages.

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Chapter One
January
Niniltna

This is just wrong, on so many levels, Jim thought.

For one thing, he was freezing his butt off. Even if the front of him was plenty warm.

For another, his boss might legitimately qualify his current activity as a colossal waste of Jim’s time, not to mention the taxpayer’s dollar. Crime had yet to be committed anywhere near or about his person.

If you didn’t count the one he was about to commit if Kate kept rubbing up against him like that.

Her head was a very nice fit beneath his chin, even if her hair did tickle. She shifted again, and when he spoke, his voice was a little hoarse. “Are you sure you didn’t get me out here under false pretenses, Shugak?”

He heard the smile in her voice when she replied, felt the warmth of her breath on his throat. “Well, since it seems crime is the only thing that makes my company tolerable to you, I figured I’d find some.”

He disregarded what she said for what she meant. “I’m not afraid of you.”

She tilted her head to meet his eyes. “I make you want to run away like a little girl.”

“You do not.” It sounded weak, even to him.

She leaned back against him, warm and firm from chest to knee, and dropped her voice to a whisper roughened by the scar that bisected her throat. “Say it again. And make me believe it.”

He could have told her to step away. He could have pushed her away. He did not do either of those things, and the sound of the truck coming down the trail was the only thing that saved him.

And, sadly, Jim wasn’t one bit happy when Kate’s focus shifted, too.

It was an elderly blue Ford pickup minus tailgate and rear bumper, its passenger-side window replaced with an interwoven layer of duct tape, the body rusting out from the tires up. The engine, however, maintained a steady, confident rumble that indicated more beneath the peeling hood than met the eye.

The homeowner had dutifully cleared the requisite thirty feet of defensible space around her house in case of forest fires, which in this era of dramatic climatic change were inclined to hit interior Alaska early and often each spring. This and the winter’s meager snowfall made it easy for the pickup to crunch through the thin layer of snow on the driveway and pull around to the back of the house, where half a dozen fifty-five-gallon drums rested in an upside-down pyramid on a solidly constructed two-by-four stand, connected to each other so that the fuel from the top drums ran down into the lower drums, with the bottom drum connected to the furnace in the house by an insulated length of copper tubing.

Kate and Jim had positioned themselves in a convenient stand of alders at the edge of the clearing, so they had a clear view of Willard Shugak as he got out of his truck, disconnected the copper tubing, connected a hose to the spigot, and began to siphon off the fuel in the drums on the stand to the black barrel tank in the back of his pickup.

Kate swore beneath her breath. Jim kept his arms around her so she’d shut up and stay put. When he judged that enough fuel had been transferred from the drums to the truck’s tank to merit, at the $3.41 per gallon for diesel fuel he had last seen on an Ahtna pump, the definition of theft as provided for in the Alaska statutes, specifically 11.46.100, he said, “Shall we?” and turned her loose.

Willard looked up when they emerged from the alders. When he saw Kate, he went white and then red and then white again. “Oh shit,” he said, his voice an insubstantial adolescent squeal that sounded odd coming out of the mouth of a forty-year-old man.

Copyright © 2007 by Dana Stabenow. All rights reserved.

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